Teaser: growing a social enterprise without losing soul
This month I’ve been investigating a question that was put to me by one of our female entrepreneurs. It’s one I’m still working on, however, I thought you might like a sneak peek into the journey:
“Can you grow a social enterprise business without losing its soul?”
Of course, the answer is yes, the challenges, however, are deeper than this.
Can social enterprise be a driving part of the business model and create a balance that shouts integrity as well as commercial security and viability?
The purpose-led question is being asked in many forms right now with the importance of a purpose-led approach having increased significantly over the last 6 months, making it one of the leading Covid strategies for many organisations, alongside digital transformation. As we reflect, consolidate and prepare to move into 2021, the questions now are evolving to focus on the level that companies will continue the purpose related commitments they have claimed over the past months, especially as the situations change.
A true, purpose-led company has their purpose embedded in how they do things, being led and guided by the relationship they have with their customer and the commitment to make a difference. You can’t switch this on and off – it has to be ‘part of the furniture.’
So, the challenge with this business and the question posed to me, is how we move from a purely charity status into a social enterprise, making the product and service stronger in order to have a greater impact on more people without losing its soul print. The reverse view is perhaps interesting as well, from the shoes of the more traditional business model as they look into 2021; their challenge is to perhaps prove whether their purpose-led messages created during 2020 Covid communication strategies, came from their soul and if they will (and can) continue their previously declared commitments to their communities on a rising tide of change.
As I mentioned in our newsletter (you can sign-up below if you missed it) my challenge for December is to find the answers to grow this current more charity-based organisation into a social enterprise, making sure it’s driven by its deep-rooted purpose. I’m excited to share her story with you soon.
In the meantime, this great podcast is a 20 minute reflection and debate on the thoughts about this balance.
<Update> You can now read Helen’s story and see exactly what made up Helen’s right next step to growth, without losing her soulprint.